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Mottau ready to make new memories with Isles

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- When Mike Mottau arrived at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, one of his newest teammates was waiting for him.
It was Frans Nielsen.
Nielsen, you may recall, was on the receiving end of Mottau's controversial hit at the Prudential Center on Nov. 21, 2008, which sidelined the Isles' center until mid-January due to multiple injuries to his right leg.
But that's ancient history now, especially since Mottau signed a two-year deal with the Islanders earlier this week after it was announced defenseman Mark Streit will miss six months with a shoulder injury.
"He was actually the first guy I saw ... it was pretty interesting," said Mottau, who received a two-game suspension for the hit and admitted he was nervous about meeting Nielsen. "I apologized to him just for making him miss that amount of time. Playing against one another, you're all in it together. You don't want to see that happen to anyone. He understood. It was a questionable hit, at best. I wanted to put it behind us as quickly as possible. He's a good player. I'm looking forward to being his teammate."

"I think I can go up and down. It's really where (Scott Gordon) sees I fit best. It's going to take a group effort to fill the void of a Mark Streit. Not just one guy can come in and take his minutes."
-- Mike Mottau

Nielsen will be in the lineup Friday when the Isles face Mottau's former team at the Prudential Center. Mottau is slated to play against the Devils when the teams face each other again Saturday at the Coliseum.
"He got a hit in on me and my skate got caught in the ice. I couldn't get my leg around," Nielsen said. "That's what happens. That was an accident. I met him (Thursday) when he got here. We talked it out right away. It's OK. Mottau is a great signing. He's a very underrated player."
And one that has been welcomed on Long Island with open arms. Isles coach Scott Gordon said he had numerous conversations with coaches and others who know Mottau well. The next bad thing someone tells Gordon about Mottau apparently will be the first.
"If you know Mike Mottau, he certainly doesn't have any evil intention," Gordon said. "(Trent Hunter) went after Mike right after it happened. It wasn't a situation we allowed to fester. We addressed it at that time. At the end of the day, Mike is as honest a player as you're going to get. It's not like he has a history of doing something like that."
Monday proved to be one of the biggest days of Mottau's life, and the signing was just a small part of it. On the same day he was negotiating a contract with the Islanders, Mottau's wife went into labor and gave birth to the couple's fourth child, a daughter they named Brooke.
"It happened the same day, within about a half-hour of one another," Mottau said. "The birth of a child is a wonderful experience to begin with. It's our fourth child. That, coupled with getting a job ... we talked about it briefly in the hospital, but it happened so quick. It's a day I'll always remember."
Mottau admitted he thought he might receive a phone call from the Isles after the club learned the severity of Streit's injury.
"You keep up to speed when you're out there looking for a job," Mottau said. "But he's one of the top players in the League. It's unfortunate because he's a big part of this team."
In 258 NHL games, Mottau has 7 goals and 46 assists. He also has 2 goals and 2 assists in 17 postseason contests, all with New Jersey. But it's not as if Mottau doesn't have offensive ability. In his sophomore season at Boston College, the Quincy, Mass., native had 13 goals and 36 assists in just 40 games. He then averaged a point per game over his final two seasons there.
Mottau continued to play a solid offensive game at the professional level in his first two seasons in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack. A 1997 seventh-round pick by the New York Rangers, Mottau had 10 goals and 43 points in 2000-01 and 9 goals and 51 points the following season. Four seasons later, he scored 8 goals and 56 points in 76 games for the Peoria Rivermen.
Things have been different, though, for Mottau in the NHL. Last season, he notched career-highs of 16 assists and 18 points in 79 games for the Devils. But he's confident he'll be able to chip in offensively if and when he's called upon.
"I kind of adjusted my game a bit just to help the team," Mottau said. "If coaches want me to play a more defensive role, I can do that. If they want me to step up offensively, I can try to help out on that end. But it's just a conscious effort to refine my game to be in good position and be more responsible defensively. It's just about being a part of the team at this point. Whatever I can do to help -- whether it be offensively or defensively -- that's what I'm going to do.
"I think I can go up and down. It's really where (Gordon) sees I fit best. It's going to take a group effort to fill the void of a Mark Streit. Not just one guy can come in and take his minutes. We were in a similar situation in New Jersey last year when Paul Martin went down. It's one of those things that takes a group effort."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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